The Music of the Crickets

March 11, 2012
By , Boston, MA
When I was tall enough to reach the sink from the step stool, my daddy made me wash the dishes. I knew that at 6:00 every night I had to scramble downstairs and get to work before daddy came home from work. I would first wash the dishes in the sink, one by one, until the sink was vacant. Then I would dry them until there was no more to dry. After that I would put them away.
On my sixth’s birthday, a Saturday, my daddy called for me to come down and wash the dishes. There was no celebration that day, but my older brother had given me his birthday candle from a few months before.
I hustled downstairs and came to a halt. Before me stood my daddy, six foot two. I slowly walked to the stepping stool, but as I passed by him, he grabbed me by the collar. He pulled me up to his face. Our noses were barely touching each others and I could see his blue eyes, clear as the morning sky. He whispered something, so quiet, I could hear the crickets outside. He said, “girl, I may not be the best daddy on this block, in this town, city, country, or world. But I am your daddy and you will listen to me. There ain’t nothing for you here. Only sand and stones for you to play with. People say you got potential, but you ain’t gonna get it here. You gotta experience something to spark that living life in you. I don’t care how you do so but you gotta.” Then he threw me across the kitchen and beat me up. After that I went to do the dishes, one by one.
Every night after that, before I did the dishes, my daddy would beat me up. My mommy was too drunk to say anything, but she would always watch, sipping red wine from a crystal glass.
On my fourteenth birthday, right after I did the dishes, I walked out the door and into the evening night. Dad and mom had gone to the local bar. As I walked down the street, all I could hear were my bare feet slapping against the cold sidewalk and the sound of the crickets chirping. I never came back home.

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